Solar panel production worldwide almost doubled in 2008

Global production of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules and panels increased 80% to about 7.3GW in 2008, according to a report from the JRC’s Institute for Energy, published during the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference & Exhibition (EU PVSEC).

The JRC’s Institute for Energy (IE) has published its eighth Annual Photovoltaics Status Report. The report notes that global production of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules and panels increased to about 7.3 gigawatts (GW) in 2008, representing an 80% increase on the previous year.

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World PV cell/module production 1990-2008. (Source: Navigant, PV News, JRC analysis)

Europe’s production of solar cells rose from 1.1GW to 1.9GW, while the installed capacity increased threefold to 4.8GW, mainly led by Spain, where figures multiplied almost 5× from 560MW in 2007 to 2.5-2.7GW. Cumulative installed PV electricity generation capacity in the world was around 15GW, with Europe accounting for more than 60% of this (9.5GW).

Global investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency was hit by the financial crisis in late 2008 and early 2009, but is now showing signs of a strong recovery. The report notes a significant slowdown in investment in the second half of 2008 (-10% in the third quarter and -23% in the fourth), that continued in the first quarter of 2009 (-47% compared with 4Q08), but started to reverse in the second quarter (83% compared with 1Q09).

The report gives an overview of current activities in research, manufacturing, and market implementation in this sector. It shows that European PV production has grown on average by 50% per annum since 1999 and its market share has increased to 26% in 2008. In terms of electricity generation, photovoltaics provided for approximately 0.35% of Europe’s final electricity consumption in 2008.

The report also points out that in 2008 China became the leading producer of solar cells with an annual production of about 2.4GW, followed by Europe with 1.9GW, Japan with 1.2GW and Taiwan with 0.8GW. It this trend continues, China might have about 32% of the world-wide production capacity by 2012.

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